Thursday, July 11, 2013

London Bridge Lunches

Once upon a time a lunch hour really meant a lunch hour; now it means a dash to Sainsbury's to grab a sandwich and eating it hunched over your desk. The leisurely lunch break is a thing of the past. In the 1950s Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously had two course meals with wine and brandy every lunch time but by 1987, when Gordon Gekko famously exclaimed, in the movie Wall Street,  'lunch is for wimps', it had lost its popularity and, especially in work crazy cultures like the USA and the UK (where we work longer hours than any country in Europe yet are the least productive; though apparently we only spend three days of every week doing actual work, the rest is spent on browsing the internet, banter, anything – but not lunching), food is seen purely as fuel.

Surveys have found that having a proper lunch outside of the office is beneficial to both physical and mental health. I have to agree with Anna Soubry, minister for public health, on this: the lunch over the keyboard thing is rather vulgar. A recent survey in the Evening Standard showed that a common complaint amongst office workers was colleagues eating smelly foods at their desks such as curries.

I usually make time to get out and eat lunch in a park. It's also good to stretch the legs and explore the local area. Working near London Bridge, there's not only a plethora of good cafes and restaurants as well as Borough Market, but also plenty of lovely parks, gardens and churchyards tucked away down side roads off the busy Borough High Street.

One of my favourites is the Red Cross Garden on Redcross Way. A small garden consisting of flower beds, winding paths and patches of grass, it also contains a lovely pond which has the rare great crested newt living in it. Overlooking the garden is a row of cottages and a community hall. It was established by the pioneering Octavia Hall (1838-1912), social reformer and co-founder of The National Trust. Red Cross Garden was designed as an 'open air sitting room for the tired inhabitants of Southwark', and indeed one of Hill's main concerns was for London's urban workers to have access to open spaces and greenery. Octavia Hill helped save Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on and was a major force behind the development of social housing.

Along the same road can be found the Cross Bones Graveyard, which I've mentioned before.

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